This Month in SpaceFlight – January 2020

Jan Spaceflight 2020 Contents

Rock Follies: For the first time in over 40 years, an untouched sample of lunar rock and soil, brought back by Apollo 17, has been opened as part of NASA’s Apollo Next-Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) initiative. Dr Sarah Noble, program scientist, said: “We are able to make measurements today that were just not possible during the years of the Apollo programme …The analysis of these samples will maximise the science return from Apollo, as well as enable a new generation of scientists and curators to refine their techniques and help prepare future explorers for lunar missions anticipated in the 2020s and beyond.” 

Twin Sisters: The RAF have seconded Flight Lieutenant Mathew “Stanny” Stannard to Virgin Orbit, as a pilot of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft “Cosmic Girl”, from which Virgin’s LauncherOne vehicle will be launched, in order to gain expertise and skills to improve understanding of the military uses of small satellites.

Congressional Hearing: David Todd reports from the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2019) in Washington DC, noting some encouraging news…and some worrying attitudes.

Bringers of Life: Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, from the Buckingham Centre of Astrobiology, at the University of Buckingham, speculates on the origins of life, and of the startling possibility that life on Earth may have originated from micro-organisms arriving from space!

Heading for the Outer Limits: Calla Cofield, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells us of the Voyager 2 probe, as it heads for interstellar space.


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